Western Reserve Sources

Writing the Western Reserve into History

Americans turned towards their collective pasts in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth. Museums and historical societies were founded in great numbers, historic places were so designated, and commemorative sculptures began regularly to appear on the landscape. After the nation's Centennial in 1876, it was time for states and regions established after the first thirteen colonies to celebrate their founding, their stories.

The nation's printing presses issued millions of pages dedicated to genealogy, history, reminiscences, letters, diaries, and journals dedicated to preserving the past. In so doing, these works also preserved a sense of place and a sense of shared heritage. The Western Reserve was the subject of a significant number of books, many of which are now in the public domain and accessible through Google Books.

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Cherry, P.P. The Western Reserve and Early Ohio, 1921

Mathews, Alfred. Ohio and Her Western Reserve, 1902

Mathews, Lois Kimball. The Expansion of New England: The Spread of New England Settlement and Institutions to the Mississippi River, 1620-1865, 1909

Mills, William Stowell. The Story of the Western Reserve of Connecticut, 1900

Rice, Harvey. Incidents of Pioneer Life in the Early Settlement of the Connecticut Western Reserve, 1881

Rice, Harvey. Pioneers of the Western Reserve, 1882

Wing, George Clary, ed. Early Years on the Western Reserve, 1916

Upton, Harriet Taylor. History of the Western Reserve, Volume II, 1910

Women's Department, Cleveland Centennial Commission. Album of the Western Reserve Centennial, 1896

Fictional literature about the Western Reserve also appeared in this era of the Colonial Revival. See, for example:

Branch, Edward P. Plain People: A Story of the Western Reserve, 1892

Riddle, A. G. Ansel's Cave: A Story of Early Life in the Western Reserve, 1893

Vincent, Clarence Augustus. Night and the Stars: A Tale of the Western Reserve, 1906

Mapping the Western Reserve

Maps are not only mirrors of an aspect of the real world. Maps, as graphic representations, describe symbolically a place in time. Importantly, as symbols maps tell us much about political, social, and cultural assumptions and practices of the time and place in which they were and are created.

What does it mean, then, that maps of the Western Reserve were created long after the region was assumed into the Northwest Territory in 1800 and the State of Ohio in 1803? What does this practice tell us about inhabitants' sense of place? How is this cultural heritage conveyed today?

For an excellent brief history of maps of the Western Reserve, see "First Maps of Cleveland the Western Reserve," part of Cleveland Memory, at http://www.clevelandmemory.com/SpecColl/maps/firsts.html.

A "zoomable" 1826 map of the Western Reserve--the iconic Savery map--is available via the David Rumsey Map Collection at http://www.davidrumsey.com/maps1788.html.

Depicting the Western Reserve: The Visual Arts

Fine arts, decorative arts, industrial arts and design: The Western Reserve boasts distinction in many forms of artistic production. Regional art, known as the “Cleveland School,” re-presented the landscape, built environment, and history of the Western Reserve in the first half of the twentieth century. The following museums possess collections of artworks created in the Western Reserve:

Akron Art Museum

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, Cleveland

Butler Museum of American Art, Youngstown and Howland

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland

ARTneo, Cleveland

Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland

University art galleries and museums also collect and display the works of local and regional artists:

University of Akron

Baldwin Wallace College

Case Western Reserve University

Cleveland Institute of Art

Cleveland State University

Kent State University (Art Gallery and Museum)

Lakeland Community College

Oberlin College

Ursuline College

Youngstown State University

Interested in the history of the visual arts in the region? Check out:

Bright, Alfred L., Samuel W. Black, and Pamela McKee. Yet Still We Rise: African American Art in Cleveland. 1920-1970 (1996)

Clark, Edna. Ohio Art and Artists (1932)

Gibans, Nina Freedlander. Creative Essence: Cleveland’s Sense of Place (2005)

Haverstock, Mary Sayre, et al. Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900: A Biographical Dictionary (2000)

Marling, Karal Ann. Federal Art in Cleveland, Cleveland Public Library (1974)

Novak, Barbara, and Louis Zona. “A Portrait of America: The Nation and Ohio,” American Art Review 19:1 (January-February 2007)

Robinson, William H. Robinson. "Watercolor Painters of Northeast Ohio," American Art Review 11:2 (March-April 1999), and “The Triumph of Ohio Watercolor Painters,” American Art Review 15:3 (May-June 2003)

Robinson, William H. and David Steinberg. Transformations in Cleveland Art, 1796-1946 (1996)

David Steinberg’s contributions to this work are available online:

“The Forest City Rises: Symbol and Value in Cleveland’s First Pictures,” at http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/9aa/9aa91.htm

“Fine Art in an Industrial Age,” at http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/9aa/9aa92.htm

Smart, Jermayne. "Folk Art of the Western Reserve" (Ph.D. diss., Western Reserve University, 1939)

Witchey, Holly Rarick. Fine Arts in Cleveland: An Illustrated History (1994)

The Western Reserve in Ohio History

The Ohio Historical Society's Website holds the contents of the venerable journal, Ohio History. For those of you seeking more information on the history and culture of the Western Reserve, please see:

Anderson, Russell H. "The Pease Map of the Connecticut Western Reserve." 63: 270-278

Brcak, Nancy J. "Country Carpenters, Federal Buildings: An Early Architectural Tradition in Ohio's Western Reserve." 98: 131-46

Carpenter, Helen M. "Origins and Location of the Firelands of the Western Reserve." 44: 163-203.

Davis, Harold E. "Religion in the Western Reserve, 1800-1825: Distinctive Character of Western Reserve Religion." 38: 475-501

Hinsdale, B. A. "The History of Popular Education on the Western Reserve." 6: 35-58

Hutchins, E.F., Esq. "The Western Reserve. How It Has Played an Important Part in the History of Ohio and the Nation." 7: 259-273

Lottick, Kenneth V. "The Western Reserve and the Frontier Thesis." 70: 45-57.

Sugar, Hermine. "The Role of Women in the Settlement of the Western Reserve, 1796-1815." 46: 51-67

Waite, Frederick C. "Sources of the Names of the Counties of the Western Reserve." 48: 58-65

Wheeler, Robert A. "The Literature of the Western Reserve." 100: 101-128